Lindi Ortega @ Leaf Cafe, Liverpool 25.01.14

Alt. country siren on dazzling form live in Liverpool

Jan 30th, 2014 at Leaf, Liverpool / By Richard Lewis
Lindi Ortega @ Leaf Cafe, Liverpool 25.01.14 As the hundred strong crowd gathered before doors open files in from the cold into the warmth of the Leaf Cafe, the third gig in as many years by Lindi Ortega at the venue has now become an almost traditional affair, the audience seemingly doubling in number each time.

Making her way to the stage in her Southern Gothic ensemble of trademark red leather boots and funeral veil, as estimable lead guitarist ‘Champagne’ James Robertson sets the scene, the number of shows played by the Canadian born-Nashville based singer around the globe is immediately apparent in her performance from the off.

Silencing idle chatter at the bar, Lindi simply bosses the songs, taking the audience every step of the way with her, her remarkable voice a mixture of Dolly Parton vibrato and Johnny Cash gravitas, perfectly meshes with the superlative guitar work of long-term sideman Robertson and percussionist Alex Cox to create a rolling vista of sound.

While the trio motor through the raucous audience assisted uptempo tracks with supreme ease, Ortega's ability to hush the crowd into reverent silence for the delicate likes of ‘Cigarettes and Truckstops’ and the gorgeous lilt of recent album title track ‘Tin Star’, (dedicated to all struggling creative types) speaks volumes for her presence as a performer.

Recounting anecdotes and lyrical inspirations between songs, Lindi’s engaging , frequently self-deprecating stage persona illuminates the likes of a stark, hushed rendition of ‘High’ and a desolate version of ‘Lived and Died Alone’, evoking Mazzy Star in its swooning beauty.

Essaying tracks from her three albums, the likes of ‘Bluebird’ and ‘Waiting On My Luck To Change’ sit comfortably alongside stripped down versions of The Eagles’ standard ‘Desperado’ and Hank Williams’ totemic ‘I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry’, the only minor complaint of the evening being that despite the excellence of the covers, more of Ortega’s self-penned material would have been welcome.

Wrapping up the main set with a rousing version of ‘The Day You Die’, the trio return with a cover of Nancy Sinatra’s ‘Bang Bang’ and a sultry Marilyn Monroe-esque rendition of Happy Birthday dedicated to a lucky front row attendee, drawing proceedings to a close with a barnstorming take on ‘Little Lie’.

Departing to huge applause and immediately stepping down from the stage to sign autographs for what seems to be almost the entire audience at the merch stall, Lindi’s rise now seems absolutely unstoppable. Expect a return visit to these isles roughly the same time next year to a crowd that has doubtless increased in volume again, as bigger venues almost certainly beckon.